Most Commonly Used Rules


Among the 86 rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the most commonly used rules are:

  • Rule 1, which states that the rules “shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.”
  • Rule 2, which unified the procedure of law and equity in the federal courts by specifying that there shall be one form of action, the “civil action.”
  • Rule 3, which provides that a civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court.
  • Rule 4, dealing with procedure for issuance of a summons when the complaint is filed and service of the summons and complaint on the defendants.
  • Rule 5, requiring that all papers in an action be served on all parties and filed with the court.
  • Rule 6, dealing with technical issues concerning computation of time and authorizing the courts to extend certain deadlines in appropriate circumstances.
  • Rule 8(a), which sets out the plaintiff’s requirements for claim.
  • Rule 8(b), which states that the defendant’s answer must admit or deny every element of the plaintiff’s claim.
  • Rule 8(c), requiring that the defendant’s answer state any affirmative defenses.
  • Rule 11, requiring that all papers are to be signed by the attorney and providing for sanctions against the attorney or client for harassment, frivolous arguments, or a lack of factual investigation.
  • Rule 12(b), describing pretrial motions that can be filed.
  • The Rule 12(b)(6), which explains how lawsuits with insufficient legal theories underlying their cause of action are dismissed from court.
  • Rules 12(g) and 12(h), which state that if 12(b)(2)-12(b)(5) motions are not properly bundled together or included in an answer/allowable amendment to an answer, they are waived.
  • Rule 13, describing when a defendant is allowed or required to assert claims against other parties to the joinder suit.
  • Rule 14, allowing parties to bring in other third parties to a lawsuit.
  • Rule 15, allowing pleadings to be amended or supplemented.
  • Rule 17, which states that all actions must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest.
  • Rule 18, which states that a plaintiff who may plead in a single civil action as many claims as the plaintiff has against a defendant, even if the claims are not related, and may request any remedy to which the law entitles the plaintiff.
  • Rule 19, which states that if a person who is not a party to the suit is “necessary” to just adjudiciation the action, then upon motion of any party that person shall be made a party.
  • Rule 20, which states that joinder of parties at common law was controlled by the substantive rules of law, as reflected in the forms of action.
  • Rule 23, which governs the procedure for class action litigation.
  • Rules 26 to 37, covering the discovery proceedings.
  • Rules 38 and 39, dealing with the parties’ right to a trial by jury and the procedure for requesting a jury trial instead of a bench trial.
  • Rule 40, dealing in general terms with the order in which cases will be scheduled for trial.
  • Rule 41, dealing with dismissal of actions.
  • Rule 42, dealing with consolidation of related cases or the holding of separate trials.
  • Rule 43, which addresses the taking of testimony, which is to be taken in open court whenever possible.
  • Rule 44, which governs authentication of official records.
  • Rule 45, dealing with subpoenas.
  • Rule 46 ,which provides that formal “exceptions” to court rulings are no longer necessary so long as a sufficient record is made of the objecting party’s position.
  • Rule 47, which provides for the selection of jurors.
  • Rule 48, which governs the number of jurors in a civil case.
  • Rule 50, addressing situations in which a case is so one-sided that the court may grant “judgment as a matter of law” taking the case from the jury.
  • Rule 51, which governs jury instructions.
  • Rule 52, which provides procedure for the judge to hand down findings and conclusions following non-jury trials.
  • Rule 53, which governs masters, who are typically lawyers designated by the court to act as neutrals and assist the court in a case.
  • Rule 56, dealing with summary judgment.
  • Rule 64, which authorizes procedures such as prejudgment attachment, replevin, and garnishment.
  • Rule 65, which governs the procedure on applications for preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders.
  • Rule 66, dealing with receivership.
  • Rule 60, dealing with relief from judgment or order.
  • Rule 67, dealing with funds deposited in court, such as in interpleader actions.
  • Rule 68, which governs the offer of judgment procedure under which a party may make a confidential offer of settlement in an action for money damages.
  • Rules 69 and 70, dealing with execution of judgments and orders directing a party to take a specific act.
  • Rule 71, dealing with the effect of judgments on persons who are not parties to the action.
  • Rule 71A, dealing with procedure in condemnation actions.
  • Rule 72, which sets forth procedures for matters before magistrate judges, including both “dispositive” and “nondispositive” matters.
  • Rule 73, which provides that magistrate judges may preside over certain trials consistent with statute and upon the consent of all parties.

Most Commonly Used Rules: Related Pages